CT Residents See Regionalism as Viable Option for Local Services; Highway Improvement A Transportation Priority

Connecticut residents believe that some services traditionally handled by individual municipalities  can be effectively delivered regionally.  A new statewide survey found that public health earns the most support for a regional approach and public safety the least.  More than 3 in 4 people (76%) say that public health services can be provided on a regional basis, followed by animal control (68 percent) and education (66 percent).  The survey found that 65 percent of state residents believe that library services can be delivered regionally, and 61 percent share that view regarding public safety services. The survey for InformCT, a public-private partnership that provides independent, non-partisan research, analysis, and public outreach, was administered by researchers from the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CERC) and Smith & Company.  The analysis is based on the responses of survey of 510 state residents, with a margin of error of 5 percent. logl

Survey respondents were asked about regionalization of services in surveys conducted in the first three quarters this year, and support was generally consistent – respondent’s views of regionalizing the various services did not vary more than four percentage points for any of the policy areas during that time.  Favorability of regionalization of public health services has increased each quarter, while regionalizing education has increased from Quarter 1.  While support for regional public safety services has also increased from Quarter 1, it received the least support among the services queried in each survey.  Only regionalizing libraries has seen a decline from the first quarter, and preferences for regionalizing animal control has held steady.

stats“Increasingly, towns will not be able to afford to sustain the level of services to which they have become accustomed, as budget pressures increase along with a reluctance to raise taxes. Residents showed concern, and a willingness to consider regionalism as a partial solution,” said Robert W. Santy, who serves as Board Chair of Inform CT and is President & CEO of the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) Inc.

The  also found that the most important factor when choosing a town in which to live, is property taxes, followed by the quality of the school system.  Those factors earned 53 percent and 51 percent of respondents, respectively, who describe the factor as “very important” - the only aspects  described as very important factor by a majority. Other factors deemed very important include recent appreciation of home values (30 percent), proximity to transportation and employment (29 percent) and proximity to entertainment ad amenities (24 percent).

The survey  also asked about transportation in Connecticut, finding that 74 percent said they use their car almost every day.  Other modes of transportation were not nearly as popular.   More than 80 percent indicated that they had used a local bus (86%), long distance bus (91%), commuter rail (87%), Amtrak (92%), an airplane (92%) or a bicycle (82%) only once, or not at all, in the past month.  Regarding state spending to improve transportation, respondents ranked highway improvements as the highest priority by a wide margin, with commuter rail, local bus, and bicycle lanes/pedestrian walkways, ranked next highest.  Highway improvements was described as the highest priority by more respondents than the other six options combined.


Volatility Seen by High Net Worth Investors; Connecticut Views Differ From Region, Nation

Connecticut’s high net worth investors, coming off a year of substantial profits from Wall Street, remain optimistic, if cautious, about 2014.  There are, however, distinct differences in how and where they view investment opportunities, as compared with investors nationwide, and even compared with those in neighboring New York and New Jersey.

A newly released survey conducted for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, found that high net worth investors – those with $100,000 or more in investable household financial assets – were both realistic and optimistic about the immediate investment horizon, according to Bradley Barber, Executive Director and Family Wealth Director for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management serving coastal Connecticut, based in Greenwich.Bradley Barber low res

The survey reflects “cautious optimism,” Barker said, indicating that investors understand that the 30 percent returns of 2013 are not likely to be repeated this year, but that potential remains for solid gains.  “It’s a time to navigate the waters, not pull in the oars,” Barber told Connecticut by the Numbers.  “It is a market of stocks, not a stock market.  The high net worth investors surveyed were prescient about the volatility in the market we’ve seen since the first of the year.”

In the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region, 86 percent of high net worth individuals said they expect their investment portfolios to be “better” or “the same” at year-end, and 84 percent believe their financial well-being will be the same or better.  At the same time, three-quarters of respondents said they were concerned about stock market volatility.  Among the top concerns of investors in the region are U.S. economic prospects (86%) and the federal budget deficit (83%).

Views on Industry Investment Potential Vary

There were also marked differences in the perceptions of investment potential for various sectors of the economy.  Those most favored as “good” investments nationally were technology (79% nationally, 72% in CT), energy (77% nationally, 66% in CT), bio-technology (63% nationally, 67% in CT), and pharmaceuticals (56% nationally, 61% in CT).  Connecticut policy makers have devoted financial resources to strengthening the state’s bio-technology industry in recent years, which may have contributed to the stronger upbeat attitudes here towards the sector as an attractive investment option.

The rocky national roll-out of the affordable health care act, and its comparatively smooth path in Connecticut, may also have been reflected in the survey findings.  Unlike the national results, thosmorgan stanleye surveyed in the tri-state area viewed healthcare among the favored sectors for 2014 - 55% “good” in the tri-state region vs. only 45% nationally.

Other industry sectors that have a strong presence in the state and region, however, did not fare as well.  Aerospace was seen as a “good” investment choice by only 25 percent of those surveyed, both nationally and in the tri-state region.  Insurance was viewed favorably by only 30 percent of high net worth investors, both in the region and nationwide.  Those numbers, Barber said, should be “concerning” for Connecticut’s economic prospects.

Factors Close to Home of Greater Concern

Overall, the survey indicates that Connecticut’s high net worth investors have more concerns about internal factors, while New York residents expressed greater concerns regarding external factors, such as the possibility of terrorism or foreign entanglements.  Connecticut investors were more concerned than their regional and national counterparts with regard to their families’ financial well-being or the ability to have sufficient funds to retire in their region of the country.  While 53 percent of those in Atlanta and 59 percent nationally expressed concern over their families financial well-being, in the tri-state region seven in ten (70%) expressed that concern, with the highest numbers in the region in Connecticut.

optimisticConnecticut’s high net worth investors, Barber said, are a savvy lot, reflecting greater knowledge of investments than the national numbers reflect, yet more than 7 in 10 say they consult financial professionals.  Another clear distinction came in the percentage of investors who said dividend-bearing stocks are a good investment:  49 percent nationally, 61 percent in the tri-state area, and 71 percent in Connecticut.  “There are clear indications that Connecticut’s high net worth investors are focused on opportunity,” Barber said.

High net worth investors, overall, are bullish on America.  In the tri-state region 61 percent of those polled said the U.S. was their first choice for a positive investment outlook for 2014, even higher than the 52 percent who expressed that view nationally. There were also differences across the country in the issues of particular concern to high net worth investors.  Regarding terrorism, 82 percent in the tri-state area, 66 percent in San Francisco and 63 percent in Denver indicated concerns, for example.

As part of the national survey of 1,004 US investors, age 25 to 75, with $100,000 or more in investable household financial assets, an oversample of about 300 tri-state area investors were interviewed. Approximately one-third of those interviewed had $1 million or more in household financial assets. The poll, released on January 29, 2014, was conducted October through December 2013, by GfK Public Affairs and Morgan Stanley Corporate Communications.

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management provides access to a wide range of products and services to individuals, businesses and institutions, including brokerage and investment advisory services, financial and wealth planning, banking and lending, cash management, annuities and insurance, retirement and trust services.

New Leadership at UConn's Roper Center for Public Opinion Research

There is new leadership at the helm of UConn’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research - the leading educational facility in the field of public opinion. Paul Herrnson takes over this week as Executive Director of the Roper Center, and joins the faculty as a Professor of Political Science. The Roper Center, which was founded in 1947, promotes the intelligent, responsible and imaginative use of public opinion in addressing the problems faced by Americans and citizens of other nations. Dr. Herrnson comes to UConn from the University of Maryland, where he was a Professor in the Department of Government and Politics and recipient of outstanding teaching awards from the University and the American Political Science Association. He was also the Founding Director of the Center for American Politics and Government at the University of Maryland.roper

The Roper Center is an archive—it preserves the data from polls conducted by many leading survey organizations for the use of researchers, students, and journalists. Its collection now includes 18,000 datasets and continues to grow by hundreds of datasets per year. In total, it includes responses from millions of individuals on a vast range of topics.

Since its beginning, the Roper Center has focused on surveys conducted by the news media and commercial polling firms. However, it also holds many academic surveys, including important historical collections from the National Opinion Research Corporationherrnson and Princeton University's Office of Public Opinion Research.

Today, the Roper Center Facebook page includes current polling data from around the world, including questions culled from recent surveys on breaking news and topical events.

Herrnson is a well-published scholar whose research papers have appeared in the leading journals. His recent books include: Interest Groups Unleashed (2012), and the 6th edition of his widely used text, Congressional Elections (2011). According to the University of Maryland web site, Herrndon’s “dedication to civic responsibility and the political process fuels a number of activities on local and national levels.” He has provided expert testimony to the Maryland legislature, U.S. Congress and federal courts in the areas of voting technology, ballot access and campaign finance.

When the Center was launched, Elmo Roper and others in the emerging field of survey research recognized that the information they were gathering should be preserved for future generations of scholars, students, and journalists. Since that time, the Roper Center has continued to acquire and archive public opinion data.

Since its founding, the Center has maintained two key objectives: (1) to preserve the voice of the public in the form of public opinion polling data and maintain these data in the most current formats possible, and (2) to re-disseminate the data in detailed and complete form via intuitive access tools.

Most of the surveys in the Roper Center are national samples, but there are also some state and local surveys, as well as a number of surveys of special populations of interest. Nearly all of the surveys are based on representative samples drawn according to the best practices of the time. The Roper Center now focuses on data from the United States, but continues to acquire some surveys from other parts of the world, particularly Latin America.

The Roper Center contributes to education at the University of Connecticut.  Although the Roper Center does not offer any degree programs, it works with a wide range of programs-including the departments of Political Science, Sociology, and Statistics—in giving employment and research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students.